Libraries across the country look to boost telehealth access

Several libraries across the nation are taking health equity into their own hands by developing private telehealth rooms, allowing patients to have confidential, secure conversations with their physicians. 

The Niagara Falls Public Library in Buffalo, N.Y., recently received a grant for just over $28,000 from the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine to build two telehealth booths, according to Buffalo News. The soundproof booths will have computers, cameras and microphones for telehealth appointments with one of the booths capable of fitting two people in case patients need assistance. 

Ten libraries in rural Maine are following a similar path and are offering 10 free, private rooms for telehealth services, reported Spectrum. The libraries also plan to offer training courses on how to use telehealth and will allow patients to book the rooms ahead of time. "The library provides a private room equipped with a laptop, camera, computer, mouse, lights, headphones, and other technology relevant to telehealth needs," said Maine state officials in a news release. 

The Pottsboro area library in Texas was able to convert a junk room into a private telehealth space equipped with ventilation, a check-in kiosk and a doorbell, according to The American Libraries Magazine

The libraries provide accessible telehealth service with stable connection and private spaces, amenities that often serve as barriers for accessibility for patients. These spaces are also free of charge, even though patients must pay to access the telehealth service itself. 

"Some clients and patients, even if they do have a stable phone line, may not have space in their house to have a confidential conversation," Dianne Farrell of Dayton Metro Library told The Magazine. "Just having the space to say, 'I'm going to the library,' with no stigma, gives patients the freedom to get the counseling and therapy they need."

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